ROSEWATER | REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Kernel Andrew reviewed this one back in February and as for his thoughts you can find out below. As your luck would have it we have a pretty damn fine competition for you thanks to the wonderful folks at Transmission Films and TM Publicity. You can win one of 5x copies of ROSEWATER on DVD. ROSEWATER releases this Wednesday 24th June on DVD in Australia. Suss out the review and enter afterwards. Best of luck!

ORIGINAL ARTICLE FROM FEBRUARY 2015

Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari is detained by Iranian forces who brutally interrogate him under suspicion that he is a spy. And so begins a brutal telling movie starring one of JK’s faves, Gael García Benal in a film directed by ex-nightshow host Jon Stewart, who was actually involved in the real story when his satirical interview with the real Bahari stated things like “I am a spy” and called Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an “idiot.” After Bahari’s release the two became friends and Stewart tells the story from Bahari’s book. It runs for 103mins and is rated M. Forget my thoughts, Kernel Andrew has actually seen it and you can read his review below. All the best………JK.

 

ROSEWATER MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
ROSEWATER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

ROSEWATER is an important, somewhat uneven, but highly gripping intelligent directorial debut by Jon Stewart. Yes the Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame. Stewart also wrote the screenplay based on the memoirs of Maziar Bahari (the subject of the movie) entitled “Then They Came For Me.”

Many may remember that Bahari (played in the movie by the brilliant Gael García Bernal) shot to worldwide attention when pictures of him were beamed around the world confessing on Iranian TV of being a foreign spy and participating in a plot to destabilise Iran on behalf of the Zionists and the West (you know, the usuals). The film in essence tells the story of how Bahari was brought to this point. The movie follows his time in Iran before his arrest, his prison life and his eventual release following this false confession.

What is interesting is that there is a connection between Bahari and the “The Daily Show” which is established quite early in the movie. Bahari arrives in Iran to cover the highly controversial 2009 Presidential election between local despot Ahmadinejad and Mousavi who many in Iran believe would be the reforming hero. We see Bahari initially travelling around interviewing the locals and officials who seem to have very different views on the state of Iran. We meet supporters of Mousavi (Ahmadinejad’s opponent in the election) who show Bahari their “university” a place on top of a building where satellites pull information from the internet and television stations forbidden by the regime. They then feed this information to the population at great risk to themselves. Bahari films it all diligently.

 

ROSEWATER MOVIE IMAGE
ROSEWATER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MAZIAR BEHARI (GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL)

 

This moves to a scene of Bahari giving a “fake” interview to Jason Jones (who plays himself) the hilarious interviewer from Stewart’s show. In the interview Bahari tells Jones how he really does not work for Newsweek but is actually a spy for the CIA using his journalist credentials as a front. Of course this is all a joke but a line that will come back to haunt Bahari later on.

Things begin to get worse for Bahari. On Election Day, Ahmadinejad’s officials announce the election results well before the polls even close: The result: their man has won in a landslide. Mousavi’s supporters naturally suspect a massive fraud and begin protesting immediately. There is a clever mix here of documentary and film footage which Stewart, Jay Rabinowitz (the editor) and Bobby Bukowski (cinematographer) expertly meld together. The world and the internet watch as Iran erupts into protests pitting the two election opponent’s forces against each other. Bahari, as would any journalist, gets his camera to key locations to capture these moments. It is whilst filming one of these clashes that Bahari films Iran’s Revolutionary Guards firing and killing protestors.

This is the moment that the authorities have been waiting for. Bahari is picked up and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Here we are introduced to the title character of the movie, “Rosewater” (a fantastic performance by Kim Bodin). He is named this way by Bahari because of the rose-water cologne that he wears (Bahari spends much of his time blindfolded). Rosewater has been given his marching orders: he must gain the reporter’s admission of having worked for foreign intelligence services and must incriminate others for doing the same. One of the first things he shows Bahari is the interview with “The Daily Show” which is presented as a clear admission of guilt.

 

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ROSEWATER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DAVOOD  (DIMITRI LEONIDAS) AND MAZIAR BEHARI (GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL)

 

In solitary confinement the interrogation, beatings and isolation turns from days to weeks and then months. Bahari is happy to confess on his own behalf but refuses to name anybody else (in fact he never did). For most of these scenes there are only two people present; Bahari and Rosewater. There is no other contact for Bahari, something Rosewater tortures Bahari with. On the point of madness with no outside contact Bahari begins to imagine that his prison cell is populated by his wife Paola (Claire Foy), who when he left to go to Iran was heavily pregnant, his late father (Haluk Bilginer) and sister (Golshifteh Farahani), both of whom endured torture and long prison sentences under the Shah.

The scenes in prison are not all gruelling and punishing. In fact there are a few laugh out loud moments when Bahari, to spare himself another day of torture, confesses to travelling the world only to receive erotic massages especially in “sin-central” New Jersey. Yet most of Bahari’s experiences are torturous both literally and figuratively, and eventually he decides to give the regime’s cameras the fantasy conspiracy stories they want, in hopes that they’ll let him go home to see his child born.

 

ROSEWATER MOVIE IMAGE
ROSEWATER | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | JAVADI “ROSEWATER” (KIM BODNIA) AND MAZIAR BEHARI (GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL)

 

Upon receiving his confession and giving his interview on live Iranian TV, Bahari is let go. Imagining the world has forgotten about him he slowly awakens to the knowledge that his wife has been tirelessly campaigning for his release, his name is literally everywhere and perhaps it was this pressure rather than the confession that saw his release. This is truly a heartbreaking moment done beautifully by Stewart, perhaps his message here is sometimes the media, often a force for nefarious ends, can be used for good.

Although this movie is slightly uneven and for a time loses its way in the prison there is more than enough here to sustain even the most critical viewer. Even without this, this is an important movie that all should see. Stewart has crafted a beautiful and intelligent piece. The world would be a better place with more people like him.

 

3 and a Half Pops

 

With special thanks to Transmission Films and TM Publicity to win one of the 5X copies to ROSEWATER on DVD you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite POLITICAL THRILLER and why? I have a few I really enjoy: THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, 13 DAYS and THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR – Hunt for Subs and Connory’s attempt at accent haha, 13 Days for Costner and the tension and realism and Condor because Redford and Dunaway – all awesome!!

If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

Prizes will no longer be awarded to first in first served. It will now be a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be sent on or after July 15th! Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.